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Monday, September 20, 2021

Ghana Airports Company rolls out six-month roadmap to settle staff arrears

Ghana Airport Company staff

The Management of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) has outlined a six-month roadmap aimed at addressing all statutory and welfare deductions of staff of the company that have in recent times been the source of agitations against the airports operator.

Beginning from August 2021, all welfare and statutory deductions would be settled, the company has resolved.

The Welfare deductions include departmental welfare, Senior Staff, Trade Associations, Credit Associations among others. Payment of Tier 2 will commence in October 2021 over a period of six months.

Management and madam Oboshie Sai-Cofie’s led Board have concluded arrangements for the payment of SSNIT contributions from August 2021 over a period of 12 months.

Further to that, PAYE payments will also begin in October 2021 for a period of 12 months.

The move is expected to bring to an end, the hostility between management and staff of the GACL.

The roadmap was arrived at following management’s meeting with the GACL Board, a decision which was subsequently communicated to workers of the airport operator at a staff durbar held on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.

The Divisional Union of GACL was present at the durbar.

The plan was subsequently conveyed to the workers of the airports operator at a staff durbar held on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and same confirmed in a circular to all staff.

The Managing Director of the GACL, Yaw Kwakwa, when contacted on the issue, said the management of the airports operator will continue to deepen staff engagement at all levels for them to know the financial status of the organisation.

He said the six-month roadmap that has been set for the payment of all outstanding statutory and welfare deductions will duly be followed and or complied with, believing that it will help restore staff confidence and improve the working relationship between staff and management.

“I take responsibility for all that is happening at the company. The workers have every right to complain when they are going through hardship. What I don’t condone is to take the law into your hands and attack management members. We’ve worked together for some time now and I know how they feel when certain things are not going on well for them. But management is working very hard to address all their challenges. We are going to stick to our roadmap and I believe that at the end of the day, there will be all smiles and the bond that existed between management and staff will greatly be improved,” he noted.

He added “our number one challenge had to do with the refinancing of the over US$400million asset-backed corporate loan we took to finance our capital expenditure requirements under two separate components. But like I said, we will continue to engage our workers and resolve all outstanding issues.”

The GACL has in recent times been in the news as a result of staff agitations against management of the company over unpaid statutory and welfare deductions.

In view of this, management had engaged the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) acting for the GACL Divisional Union and given an overview of the financial situation of the company, stressing the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the accompanying result of a severe reduction of its capacity to fulfill its financial obligations.

At the said engagement, management of the GACL is said to have pointed out to the Union it had proactively made a strategic move to refinancing the terms of the loan the company took prior to the COVID-19 pandemic which had mitigated the financial effects.

Available information indicates that prior to the refinancing, GACL had APSC revenue receipts of approximately US$21.6million per quarter and made loan payments of US$19.1 per quarter.

With these figures, management anticipated that with the refinancing, payment would dip to US$6.1million, thus, providing GACL with extra cash flow of US$13million to support corporate operations.

However, this arrangement was truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic because APSC revenue dropped from us$21.6million to US$6.3million per quarter, a situation which eventually, halted any plan by management to support any likely salary increment because the airport operator now lacked the capacity to do so.

Sources say, the PSWU considering the financial position of the company made the request for a 15% pay increment to restore the purchasing power of staff with the view that government should step in and provide support to GACL to enable the company to honour its obligations to staff.

After back and forth engagement with the PSWU, management of the GACL reaffirmed the difficult financial situation of the company which was occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and its commitment to do everything possible to ensure the company’s survival.

On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, the Divisional Workers Union of the GACL notified management to brief staff on the wage-opener negotiations with Management.

The meeting was expected to have been held at the forecourt of the Head Office building but were advised to revert to their usual meeting place.

However, the advice was ignored, with staff going ahead to convene at the forecourt of the Head Office building.

The Managing Director of GACL, Yaw Kwakwa, while in the process of walking to address the staff, was kicked from behind by a staff of the company and in reaction to that, he grabbed the perpetrator to question him why he did that.

Mr Kwakwa reacting to the assault on his life said tempers were really high but he was happy that it did not flare up, stressing that through continuous engagement, they will overcome the challenges confronting the company.

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